Despite the obstacles posed by the coronavirus and social-distancing needs, Pattaya plans to somehow host its annual music festival and International Fireworks Competition this fall.
Both events – the former originally scheduled for April and the latter usually set for November – are major anchors for Pattaya’s tourism calendar. With the country now reopening and expected to welcome foreign tourists by September, Pattaya wants to stage both events to help revive its comatose tourism industry.
Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome briefed the media on Friday about his wish to stage both events should Thailand continue its winning ways over the coronavirus.
The Pattaya Music Festival typically draws more than a half-million people – mostly Thais – to the city for the multi-day event featuring stages on both Pattaya and Jomtien beaches. The city estimates that 2019’s festival generated more than 150 million baht in tourism revenue for the city.
But how does a music festival that sees singing and screaming fans standing shoulder to shoulder in a confined area work in the age of social distancing? Kunplome doesn’t have an answer to that beyond masks and sanitizer gel.
The fact the festival is outdoors – where transmission of the coronavirus drops exponentially – and that the overwhelming majority of Thais will wear masks (since alcohol is banned on concert grounds) – work in favor of the concert. Intense temperature screening to access the stagefronts also won’t hurt.
The Fireworks Festival will be an easier event to stage. Playing over two nights with fireworks shot from barges in Pattaya Bay, views of the pyrotechnics can be seen from kilometers around. Proper distancing on beaches – perhaps by cordoning off and limiting capacity in viewing zones – would make it workable.
No dates have been proposed, but more details will surely follow once the emergency decree has been lifted and guidelines issued on large gatherings issued by the government.